Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Empty chair 'em

I have noticed on a number of blogs today (including Iain Dale and Dizzy) that there is discussion that the TV debates might be in jeopardy because of the demands of Brown and Cameron about the make-up of the audience. Brown apparently wants the audience weighted by number of Commons seats (ridiculous given that Labour only got 36% of the vote but 55% of the seats) and Cameron apparently wants them weighted by current opinion polls.

Back in July last year I suggested that a broadcaster should announce that a debate will take place and empty chair any leader who does not turn up. Then in October when there was some wobbling on the agreed format, I again suggested that the broadcasters should decide.

I am sorry to sound like a broken record but frankly, if the leaders can't agree then to me the answer is obvious. The broadcasters should come up with their own impartial way of selecting an audience (the best one I have seen so far is randomly from those who apply for tickets) and then tell the leaders that's how it's going to be. If any of the leaders then refuse to attend that's their call.

We cannot allow any of the leaders to scupper the chance of these important opportunities for the public to hold them to account and properly test them on their election manifestos. If they need to be shamed into agreement and attendance then so be it.

Empty chair 'em.


Paul Freeman said...

Yep, totally agree, but perhaps they should be either replaced by a tub of lard if they don't turn up, or in the case of David, a full size cardboard cut out of himself (he can airbrush it as he sees fit)

English Pensioner said...

I think they should only have an audience who can prove that they don't support either party! Otherwise, who is going to ask questions about things like immigration, racial policies, and the E.U. Certainly not the supporters of the main parties to whom these issues are minefields. As far as I can see, the "debate" won't even be worth the effort of turning on the telly!
We need the LibDems, UKIP, Greens and even the BNP to make up the audience. At least some worthwhile questions might be asked which should be put in identical form to both leaders. Not that I would expect them to be answered!

Alex said...

I don't see how who's in the audience matters. At least not if they do it the way they do in the US Presidential debates, where the audience can't start cheering or booing or whatever. I hope we follow their example on that point.

Letters From A Tory said...

What's wrong with random selection? No party leader should be able to introduce any form of bias into these debates for blindingly obvious reasons.

Anonymous said...

…a bit late to the party, but …

The Chilcot inquiry had Blair yesterday. I watched most of it. I would like to think that we could get something along those lines for a 'true' debate but I am very negative when reading all of this and that which the three leaders are demanding. It isn't right and it won't be a debate worth watching. Instead it will be three 1.5 hour long opportunities for three boring people to give their crafted speeches.

I still maintain Question Time to be the best format but the Chilcot Inquiry did show that people even the likes of Blair can be made to sweat when held to task.

As I say - I'm very negative on the matter and don't expect anything now.